Never bend below an open cupboard door.
Shortbread is one, one two; two being the flour
one and one the butter and sugar.
Warm honey to soothe and heal,
ginger for sickness,
hellebore for shame.
Save coins every day to pay for Christmas.
Long hair hides scars.
Eat the things you don’t like first.
Never write down secrets.
On rent day always hide.
If mother comes home with a stranger at night
stay out of sight.
But if he sees you with lidded eyes,
while she sleeps,
Be still as a mouse, so he can’t say
you led him on (he will anyway).
Don’t trust doctors.
Sticks and stones will break your bones
but words will seep into you, like blood
in deep water.
On the surface you look bright
and cool and clear
but the blood is all through you,
just invisible now, unseen fear,
and sharks will sense it and smile
to swim in you, stain you
more, until gradually nothing lives
you are stagnant, a dead thing.
Bad eggs and witches float.
Listen to Sadie reading ‘Things Learned’ (1:15)
Sadie Maskery lives in Scotland near the sea. She was a singer until March 2020 and hopes to be again, but words have always been her first love.
© text and audio 2020